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FSF Reaches Out to RIAA Victims

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the armor-for-the-little-guy dept.

The Courts 329

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In what has been termed the ''RIAA's worst nightmare', the Free Software Foundation has announced that it is coming to the aid of the victims of RIAA lawsuits, by establishing an Expert Witness Defense Fund to assist defendants in RIAA cases. The purpose of the fund is 'to help provide computer expert witnesses to combat RIAA's ongoing lawsuits, and to defend against the RIAA's attempt to redefine copyright law.' The funds will be used to pay fees and/or expenses of technical expert witnesses, forensic examiners, and other technical consultants assisting individuals named as defendants in non-commercial, peer-to-peer file sharing cases brought by the RIAA, EMI, SONY BMG, Vivendi Universal, and Warner Bros. Records, and their affiliated companies, such as Interscope, Arista, UMG, Fonovisa, Motown, Atlantic, Priority, and others."

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God (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21412777)

That's a slashdot circle jerk if I ever saw one. Worst nightmare? Please.

Re:God (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21412851)

That's the title of the article. I know RTFA is your worst nightmare, but sheesh.

Re:God (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413049)

RTFA? Dude, this is slashdot! You must be new here!

I personally RTFA quite often, but I'm wierd even for a nerd. perhaps the AT (anonymous troll) couldn't RTFA; it's firewalled off at my workplace.

I would think that having their victims get a little ammo might be a nightmare for the RIAA, but I think an even worse nightmare is the fact that neither musicians nor fans need the major labels any more.

-mcgrew

Thomas Friedman and the Israeli Lobby (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21412967)


Read about Tom's Cheney fetish [rawstory.com] .

Have a day.

K Trout

Too late (3, Insightful)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412789)

I like the FSF but where were they with this a few months ago.

Re:Too late (4, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412813)

I'll bet they were waiting for enough money from contributors to make this happen.

Re:Too late (1)

DeepZenPill (585656) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413379)

Yeah, a year ago would've been nice.

And what about? (4, Interesting)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412799)

Lawyers. Who's going to pay for them? Cost of technical examiners is nothing comparing to what they charge.
Do it as in Europe - losing side pays for everything, and they will stop pretty quick.

Re:And what about? (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412897)

Do it as in Europe - losing side pays for everything, and they will stop pretty quick.
I agree that is what they should do but only if they defendant only pays the original asking amount and the lawyer fees for the RIAA comes from the winnings. Because they are being back by corporations and the average Joe is not. I know it isn't perfectly fair for the RIAA but hacking most of their practices aren't fair.

Re:And what about? (2, Insightful)

swb311 (1165753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412925)

The losing parties liability for court costs is one idea we could definitely learn from here in the US.

Re:And what about? (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413511)

The losing parties liability for court costs is one idea we could definitely learn from here in the US.

Yes, because when Grandma needs to seek justice against some large corporation that wronged her, she should definitely have to worry about paying their legal fees if she loses.

Re:And what about? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413631)

Easy to fix. The loser pays the winner the loser's legal fees. If you only spend a small amount then your risk is small. If Grandma sues MegaCorp with a single lawyer and looses then it only costs her twice whatever her lawyer charges. If MegaCorp loses then Grandma gets all of her fees paid as well as whatever damages are awarded.

Re:And what about? (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414089)

That's done to an extent already. Legal fee awards in cases are normally capped to "reasonable" levels. When trying to determine what is reasonable, the opposing side's legal fees are considered directly relevant. If I'm asking for 50k in legal fees, you're going to have trouble complaining that my legal fees are unreasonable when you spent 100k on the same case. This was the direct cause of the interesting legal wrangling over whether or not the RIAA's legal billings would be revealed as part of the Foster case -- she was seeking legal fees, and the RIAA was contesting her fees as too high.

I'd much prefer to see it codified in a loser-pays system as you and the GP are suggesting, though.

Re:And what about? (3, Insightful)

ricebowl (999467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412939)

Hmm, that sounds great in theory. The problem comes when the better-represented party, rather than the party in the right, wins. Not that I disagree that an organisation pursuing frivolous lawsuits should foot the cost of those lawsuits when they're found wanting for whatever reason, but neither system is perfect.

On the other hand the only trial of multinational-vs-regular folks I could think of, outside the RIAA/MPAA/IFPI etc sphere, was the 'McLibel [mcspotlight.org] ' case. In which the defendants won. Despite the litigious might of McDonalds. So I might've shot myself in the foot...oops.

Re:And what about? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412969)

You really don't know what you're talking about do you?

Expert witnesses bill out at a kilobuck per hour.

Your own experts are not cheap by any metric.

Even if you get your lawyers to work for free, your experts won't.

Re:And what about? (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412983)

I agree with the sentiment, but what happens in Europe when the losing side was the side that was correct? Does it actually cut down on bad law suits, or does it encourage a larger spending in the hopes of winning the case anyway?

How would one of those being sued in this case come up with the money if they lost? Being innocent of the charges isn't always enough to ensure that one wins the case. All that would do in these cases would be to encourage the RIAA to pay more and represent a larger incentive to settle out of court.

When it comes to the cost of lawyers, often times people with a strong case can gain an attorney on a contingency basis, meaning that they lawyer takes a larger slice of the award in exchange for potentially working for free if they lose the case.

Other times an attorney will do the work pro bono publico, although the practice can at times be shady, as sometimes the attorney will seek an award in addition to what the complainant is asking for anyways.

What I would like to see is for the court expenses be limited to what the less wealthy side can afford, and if the wealthier side wants to spend more, require them to cover the difference whether they win or lose. With the Judge in the case ruling whether the sums of money involved are reasonable.

Re:And what about? (5, Interesting)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413237)

Frivolous lawsuits are not happening here. There was a brief time where we had (in Denmark) something like RIAA trying to extort people, but quickly people decided to fight back and I haven't heard of any new tries at this (one case made it all the way to court and the defendant won that afair).

Re:And what about? (4, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413279)

What I would like to see is for the court expenses be limited to what the less wealthy side can afford, and if the wealthier side wants to spend more, require them to cover the difference whether they win or lose.

So when a single mother of 4 who works double shifts at walmart and can barely make ends meet gets sued by the RIAA the court costs become $0 ?

Sounds like a great way to screw the lawyers (and the RIAA).

Where do I sign up ?

Re:And what about? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413569)

Sounds like a great way to screw the lawyers

Ya know, my karma will probably get beat all to hell for this, but not all lawyers are bad.

Get charged with a crime you didn't commit and then tell me how you feel about defense attorneys. Get injured by someone whose insurance company refuses to pay for your treatment and tell me how you feel about them.

Do you have a negative opinion of the lawyers working for the FSF? How about the ACLU lawyers fighting for your civil liberties? How about this guy [wikipedia.org] or this guy [wikipedia.org] , both of whom were lawyers.

Lawyers represent their clients. You'd be doing better to direct your anger at the RIAA for the lawsuits and not their lawyers.

Re:And what about? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413813)

How about the ACLU lawyers fighting for your civil liberties?
They're a bunch of socialist Jews that want to outlaw Christianity and bring in more political correctness and the nannystate.

Oh noes! Someone's having an independent though. Stop them!
Oh noes! Something could be considered offensive. Censor it!

How about ... this guy (Abraham Lincoln) [wikipedia.org] , both of whom were lawyers.
Yeah, fuck the state's right to secede from the Union. Burn the fuckers into submission!

Lawyers represent their clients. You'd be doing better to direct your anger at the RIAA for the lawsuits and not their lawyers.
If the lawyers actually had a soul they wouldn't take cases supporting multibillion dollar industries suing people who make minimum wage.

Re:And what about? (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414057)

"Get charged with a crime you didn't commit and then tell me how you feel about defense attorneys."

I can, easily. They stink. Mine rolled over and started pandering to the prosecution until I finally was tired of hearing his whiny ass tell me that my defense would do no good; after 2 months *MY* motions to dismiss, etc. had caused the prosecution to approach me with a plea bargain that was less than 1% of what I had been charged with initially. I imagine I'd still be in prison if I'd bothered to listen to the little yellow-bellied fucker who couldn't get it down to 10% of the original charge. And to beat all, I was innocent.

Re:And what about? (2, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413761)

That's pretty much what I've been advocating. "Loser Pays", with the variant that the loser must pay the winner's legal fees up to the amount equal to the minimum of the two side's spending.

Rich corp spends $50,000 suing poor single mom, who spends $1,000 defending herself. They win, she pays $1,000 of their expenses. They lose, they pay $1,000 of the mom's expenses.

Two Rich cops sue each other: They each spend $1,000,000. Loser pays full amount.

I think this would have the effect of making penalties fairer, and provide incentive to both sides to keep legal costs in check. I like loser pays, but if unchecked, it could serve as a tool of intimidation for wealthy companies and individuals.

Re:And what about? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414127)

How would one of those being sued in this case come up with the money if they lost? Being innocent of the charges isn't always enough to ensure that one wins the case. All that would do in these cases would be to encourage the RIAA to pay more and represent a larger incentive to settle out of court.

Have the state pay for everything - every last penny spent on the case. Anything else means that the citizens are not equal before law, which only serves to bring all law into contempt.

Not that that'll ever happen, because no one wants to pay for common good until it's their own head on the execution block and then it's too late.

Re:And what about? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413013)

Hm, how much does it cost to get someone to say:

"Yes, the evidence establishes that the defendant's IP address was used to download a Britney Spears album on a P2P network. However, it still allows for the possibility that the *person* who downloaded it was a catburglar who snuck in at night without the defendant knowing, downloaded the files, and left. Therefore, IP logs should have no probative value in computer crime cases."

Re:And what about? (1)

SterlingSylver (1122973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413073)

Ah, the "a mysterious stranger snuck in and did what you say I did that that the evidence said was done as I would do it but you can't prove it was me what did it." It worked so well for OJ in civil court...

Re:And what about? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413299)

If the DNS don't fit you must acquit!

Re:And what about? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413697)

Getting someone to say it costs very little. Getting someone with the right credentials, who is capable of withstanding cross-examination, to say it costs a fair bit more. You need someone assertive enough not to be bullied by either barrister who not only knows the material well (and has qualifications to back that up), but can present it in a way that is understandable by a dozen idiots (or ignorant but intelligent members of the general public if you are incredibly lucky).

Re:And what about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413017)

Lawyers. Who's going to pay for them? Cost of technical examiners is nothing comparing to what they charge.
Do it as in Europe - losing side pays for everything, and they will stop pretty quick.

And to prevent/penalize the David versus Goliath syndrome (big money against little person) I would also add the you are liable up to what you spend in the suit. So if the RIAA spends $1,000,000 dogging you and you spend $40,000 defending yourself. Then if they loose they pay $1,000,000. If you lose fighting them, you pay an additional $40,000. Yep, lets raise the stakes.

Re:And what about? (1)

Unlikely_Hero (900172) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413223)

I'd like to take this a step further.
Losing side pays for everything and owes the defendant the amount initially requested by plaintiff.
You want to sue for excessive and crazy amounts? You lose you pay the same.

Punitive damages (1)

16384 (21672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413369)

I find it odd that punitive damages are paid to the person filling a suit. If there are actual damages they should be paid to them, however if there is a need for punitive damages that money should go to the government, not to whoever started the suit. In this way, the millions and millions companies have to pay would not go into the lawyers pockets, and lots of frivolous lawsuits would be avoided.

Re:Punitive damages (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413999)

I agree. Punishment should be done in the interest of society as a whole, not in the interest of one person who was wronged. Correcting the ills that befall the victim is what actual damages are for. Why should a person (or their lawyers) get a windfall because they ran afoul of misfortune or malice?

Re:And what about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413683)

Uhhhh...... clue pill: in a copyright civil suit, the prevailing party *does* recover his/her attorney fees and other costs of litigation from the loser.

And many lawyers will take the case on contingency, thus taking a risk that they won't win. Experts can't do that... it is considered illegal fee-splitting because they are not attorneys. So even if you have an attorney who takes the case risking he may not get paid if you lose, an expert can't do that. You have to pay experts up front, hence the need for the project.

Not good. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21412805)

The FSF needs to remain focused on developing free as in libre software. There's no reason
for them to get involved in intellectual property disputes of this nature (I specify because
I could see reason to become involved in software patent IP issues). The last thing the free
software community needs is to be identified with people downloading illegally from the pirate's
bay, *nova, etc.

Re:Not good. (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412869)

There's no reason for them to get involved in intellectual property disputes of this nature (I specify because
I could see reason to become involved in software patent IP issues).
If the RIAA succeeds in redefining copyright law, there might not be any free as in libre software.

Re:Not good. (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412917)

You assume P2P's only use is "illegal downloads"*. BitTorrent is the perfect way to distribute free software, but its very existance is threatened by the record companies' war againsg ANY file sharing. Share a perfectly legal song that its writer/performer WANTS shared (and there are likely more legal than illegal) with the same name as an RIAA song, and you risk a lawsuit. Even naming your software "master of puppets" or "Penny Lane" may get you sued. So the FSF is indeed in the middle of this already.

-mcgrew

*Why do they keep talking about "illegal downloads" when it's UPLOADING that is illegal?

Re:Not good. (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413895)

*Why do they keep talking about "illegal downloads" when it's UPLOADING that is illegal?
Maybe because no one uploads in P2P. There is no push (upload); there is only pull (download). Serving and uploading are not the same thing.

The person making the copy is the one doing something illegal. Someone who downloads from a server is making the copy. If someone else was uploading to a server, that would be making a copy.

Something which is legal to possess isn't made illegal by making its location accessible to the public. It's a pie cooling on a windowsill.

Having something on a server makes no copies absent the actions of another, yet they claim this is "making available" (absent any proof that anything actually was available[*]) and call it a violation of exclusive distribution (copy)rights, and also manage to get it established in a judge's instructions to a jury rather than a matter for the jury to decide for itself.

[*] In civil court, to paraphrase "A Few Good Men": it doesn't matter what you can prove; it only matters what you can convincingly allege.

I are not a lawyer.
This be not legal advice.

Re:Not good. (0)

KTheorem (999253) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413159)

The FSF doesn't develop any software. They are an advocacy organization. Their big stake in this is not wether or not piracy is wrong or wether the defendants are guilty. What they are concerned with is the effect these cases might have on copyright law.

Re:Not good. (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413809)

The FSF doesn't develop any software.
The Free Software Foundation develops the GNU operating system. Anyone who contributes to these project (including myself) signs a copyright assignment form granting the FSF the rights to their code and occasionally the Foundation employs people to work on some of the important parts that no one is doing voluntarily.

I 4 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21412817)

welcome our generous overlords!

and good strategy, first let riaa do some damage and then counter!

Can you imagine... (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412821)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of NewYorkCountryLawyers?

Re:Can you imagine... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412861)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of NewYorkCountryLawyers?

That'd be like a coupla NewYorkCityLawyers, right?

Re:Can you imagine... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413867)

No. [slashdot.org]

Re:Can you imagine... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413111)

And can you imagine fifty lawyers a day, I said fifty lawyers a day, defending against infringement of Alice's Reataurant? They'd think it was a movement! The Alice's Restaraunt Massacree Lawyer movement, and all you have to do is walk in to the judge's chamber, hum a few bars of Alice's Restaraunt and walk out...

-mcgrew

(apologies to Arlo. The RIAA should be apologizing to Arlo's late father Woodie [slashdot.org] , whose guitar sported the motto "this machine kills facists").

Re:Can you imagine... (5, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414091)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of NewYorkCountryLawyers?
At the risk of getting modded down.....

:)

Bad idea (4, Interesting)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412849)

Will people now associate free software with illegal activities or supporting illegal activities? I know that is not what they are doing they are helping innocent (sometimes) people from getting corn holed by the RIAA. But could the RIAA, Microsoft or other non free software people put a spin on this and say this foundation supports law breaking and if you support this foundation you also support breaking the law? I just say this because sometimes people do not get the full story before making up their mind about software, an organization, business etc.

Re:Bad idea (2, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413003)

The FSF has ALWAYS been the software equivalent of the ACLU. This is nothing
new. This is nothing that companies like Microsoft haven't already created
FUD about. This is pretty much business as normal.

Who "supports the FSF" anyways?

Companies buy support contracts from Novell or Redhat.

They may not even be aware of the whole "GNU/Linux" thing.

Re:Bad idea (2, Insightful)

Virgil Tibbs (999791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413075)

I support the fsf

Re:Bad idea (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413849)

I support the FSF (member #4474).

Re:Bad idea (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413269)

"supporting illegal activities?"
If people were concerned about who's doing illegal activities they may wonder about RIAA's activities against college students.
For example, a student at a local college got a nice letter from RIAA to settle with them for $3000 for the 87 songs she "illegally" downloaded, or go to court.
Now, if it hurts them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per each song, why are they willing to settle for a measly $3000?
How is that form of extortion legal?

People of the US. don't give a rat's ass about who's supporting illegal activities. As the song goes... I'm proud to be an American, well at least I know I'm free!

Re:Bad idea (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413581)

if you support this foundation you also support breaking the law?

That needs to read "changing the law". FSF needs to get the message out loudly and clearly that they support sane laws and are working to get them.

I smoked pot once. But I DID NOT inhale. Will you hire me?

Interestingly on-topic. See, laws are only enforceable when the governed allow them to be. People are coming around to the idea that they don't want pot smoking to be a felony, even if they don't want to do it themselves. You yourself are coming out pro-sanity without being pro-lawbreaking. Well, the FSF needs to do the same.

Re:Bad idea (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414117)

Will people now associate free software with illegal activities or supporting illegal activities?
No, I think they will associate it with helping the Courts get it right about technology, instead of being subjected to a snow job of unrebutted 'junk science' by the RIAA's fake experts.

Copyright (4, Funny)

geggam (777689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412857)

I am still waiting for someone to point out that everything digital is really nothing but a 0 or a 1.

Everyone is copying everything.

Re:Copyright (0, Redundant)

achilles777033 (1090811) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412959)

I am still waiting for someone to point out that everything digital is really nothing but a 0 or a 1.

Everyone is copying everything.


That's kinda silly. Arrangement is important. Otherwise, everything is just protons, neutrons, and electrons, and it just gets ludicrous where you can go with that.
(unless that was your point, in which case I'll just shut up now)

Re:Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413197)

but everything *is* a collection of protons, neutrons and electrons. as far as arrangement, think about encryption. there are presumably nearly an infinite number of ways to encrypt something and each way produces a different set of 0's and 1's so arrangement its self doesn't really determine the worth of software, it's the usefulness of that software and work put into making it that is costly. althoguh even that isn't the case with FOSS software, open-source cola, music etc... it's produced to fulfill a need and released for the common good without a price on the information its self and yet money is still made indirectly off of support and the function of the software/music etc. can be used to support things that do make money directly and none of it requires an explicit attack on people who copy material arranged or not.

Re:Copyright (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413393)

/me rushes off to patent office Haha!

Re:Copyright (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413301)

Uhh that just gave me an idea.

If I remember correctly it has been determined that _ANY_ small part of a composed music number used in another number constitutes infringement. Even resampled at different speeds.

So if music is digital the smallest part of a number would be a 0 or a 1 - just get hold of whoever made the first binary program and get him/her to sue everybody in the music industry.

Go FSF! (3, Interesting)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412867)

While I believe the RIAA is doing the right thing defending their IP, I must say I applaud the FSF for helping keep the judicial process fair and even. It's high time for this kind of intervention. I respect that the RIAA can't exactly fight full, drawn out battles against everyone, but this kind of abuse of the court system simply isn't justified. Sorry.

Re:Go FSF! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413059)

The RIAA is claiming to own culture.

I was born with the right to participate in my culture.

There is no right to profit from culture.

Re:Go FSF! (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413131)

While I believe the RIAA is doing the right thing defending their IP

Thank you for using the acronym for "imaginary property" rather than pretending that anything that's only in your head bears any resemblance to actual, real, concrete property.

-mcgrew

Re:Go FSF! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413593)

Thank you for using the acronym for "imaginary property" rather than pretending that anything that's only in your head bears any resemblance to actual, real, concrete property.
How exactly doesn't intellectual property resemble "real" property? Certainly not legally, certainly not in terms of value and how it's traded, certainly not in terms of how it's earned (i.e. through working for it). So, how do they not resemble? Is it some reincarnation of the outdated "If I ain't able teh feel it, it don't exist" argument? Would you still hold the same belief about ownership of information after I distribute your credit card information, plus your home address, your social security number, etc, etc?

Re:Go FSF! (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413955)

How exactly doesn't intellectual property resemble "real" property?
  • If I steal your piece of real property, you don't have it anymore. If I "steal" your so-called "IP," you still have it.
  • If you give me your real property, the total value remains constant (because you don't have it anymore). If you give me your "IP," total value doubles because we both have it, and are thus twice as likely to create derivative works. Sharing is synergistic.
  • Real property is owned in perpetuity. Most types of "IP" expire, or in other words, revert back to their true "owner:" the Public Domain.
  • "IP" really is "imaginary." Legally speaking, there is no such thing. There are copyrights and patents and trademarks, but they are not similar enough to be spoken about under one umbrella term with any semblence of accuracy!

Any other questions?

Re:Go FSF! (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413817)

Thank you for using the acronym for "imaginary property" rather than pretending that anything that's only in your head bears any resemblance to actual, real, concrete property.

The whole concept of property is imaginary. What's your point? The only reason the idea of property exists at all is because society set up a system of rules to decide what belongs to whom. By the same token, society can decide exactly what can be owned as well.

I wonder (4, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412875)

if Stallman has been reading xkcd lately ;)

I can see the connection (5, Insightful)

kcornia (152859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412893)

While on the surface it may seem odd for FSF to come to the aid of P2P defendants, I think what they're really trying to guard against are future frivolous claims that could be made against open source software and the like.

If the RIAA is able to effectively take advantage of non-tech savvy courts, it's not too much of a stretch for other IP related companies to start filing claims, infringement suits, etc. against open source applications that compete with theirs.

Maybe I'm off base, but that's a possible reason for the FSF to be taking this course. It's more of a message to the business community at large that you're not going to have it that easy strong arming the technology world.

What do I know though, I was a history major..

HARK! (5, Funny)

mpgalvin (207975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412899)

Stallman! [xkcd.com]

The continued victimization of America (1)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412901)

Now I'm just a simple hyper chicken from a backwoods asteroid but does it seem right to call people who are being tried under the justice system in a public court "victims"?

Re:The continued victimization of America (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413063)

They don't want to be in court and they're being bled dry regardless of their guilt or innocence, so yes, I'd say "victim" is about right.

But hey, I guess good old fashioned gumption, bootstrap-pulling, and moral fiber are all people need. Maybe there's a culture of victimhood because people are constantly getting fucked over with nothing they're legally allowed to do about it except whine.

I suppose we all get the system we deserve. Unfortunately, I also get the system we deserve. Add me to the victims.

Re:The continued victimization of America (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413087)

People who are sued by the RIAA ARE VICTIMS of an organization that abuses the justice system for its own gain. Justice is never served in these cases. The RIAA NEVER PROVES WHO DOWNLOADED THE CONTENT!!! So unless you call accidental convictions of guilty people justice, then justice is never served. Besides, the RIAA is asking for obsurd amounts of money for the infringements.

Re:The continued victimization of America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413505)

Yes. In the same way you would call victims of a lynching victims. It is a disproportionate response, applied under duress, and executed without proper process.

(Lynching is of course much worse, but both are clearly disproportionate.)

Ray Beckerman is the fund adviser (-1, Troll)

MikeOnABike (1191307) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412909)

I hate the RIAA as much as the rest of you, but who appointed Ray Beckerman the primary RIAA gestapo? With him as the sole fund adviser, this money wont go to help the average Joe fighting the RIAA, it will go to whichever Ray thinks will hit the RIAA the hardest. What about having a disinterested party as the fund adviser?

Re:Ray Beckerman is the fund adviser (5, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413035)

I would think the best way to help the average Joe is to give his average lawyer a set of clearly-defined, well-argued precedents and examples to base the defense on. Having the precedents and example arguments be stronger will help more people in the long run than trying to help everyone at once.

There's no way the fund can help everyone directly; I imagine it will help more people in the long run by carefully choosing its battles and winning them well than by diluting its resources and helping lots of people who, while individually deserving, won't have the same multiplicative effect on the resources spent.

Re:Ray Beckerman is the fund adviser (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413143)

who appointed Ray Beckerman the primary RIAA gestapo?
As far as I know, Ray Beckerman volunteered to help the cause. And it is indeed volunteering: he goes well beyond the normal call of duty for his pay/occupation. He pursues his cases with a diligence and excellence that is remarkable.

What about having a disinterested party as the fund adviser?
I understand the need for transparency, but if Ray is willing to undertake the task (and it will no doubt involve some tedious paperwork and such), then that's great. He is in a position to make informed choices, and to use this money to greatest effect.

Moreover it's not like he is a rogue agent here. The FSF will of course have a say in what happens. So, to the extent you trust the FSF and Ray, this is a good choice. Since both of them have proven track records of protecting individual rights, I'd say that donating to this cause is a good idea. (And, in the unlikely event that either does something to undermine their reputation, we can all donate our money elsewhere.)

Re:Ray Beckerman is the fund adviser (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413153)

I think Beckerman is the perfect guy. I certainly wouldn't WANT a disinterested party fighting for me! If I'm in court, I want everyone on my side to be passionate about helping me win.

-mcgrew

Re:Ray Beckerman is the fund adviser (3, Insightful)

kwandar (733439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413173)

"What about having a disinterested party as the fund adviser?

I frankly don't understand your point (or why anyone modded you up), and if you RTFA you'd see that Ray Beckerman is not the "sole" advisor. "The Fund will be advised by Ray Beckerman, the author of Recording Industry vs. The People, along with a group of selected attorneys acting as advisors"

I also want a VERY interested party to decide where funds should go, and why wouldn't it go wherever it hits the RIAA the hardest? You do realize it is a common law system right? Court decisions are relied on by other courts, meaning that if you hit the RIAA hard, you might knock them out for all future lawsuits.

If the objective is to kill these RIAA lawsuits in the most efficient and effective manner, then why the hell wouldn't I want Ray Beckerman managing it?! Hell - I'm donating BECAUSE Ray is managing it, and being in Canada I don't even get a tax dedcution!

It's easy to complain (4, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413245)

But hard to do anything about it. You have a complaint - do you have a solution? Who would you suggest if not Mr. Beckerman?

He's passionate about the topic, a lawyer, and has (IMHO) the correct views on the problem.

this money wont go to help the average Joe fighting the RIAA, it will go to whichever Ray thinks will hit the RIAA the hardest

That's called preventative medicine, and is further proof that his heart is in the right place on the issue. If all he wanted was to get paid, he could endlessly represent vanilla RIAA cases until retirement. He's actually trying to solve the problem.

Disclaimer: Not associated with Mr. Beckerman, just a fan. Go Ray!

Re:Ray Beckerman is the fund adviser (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413897)

With him as the sole fund adviser, this money wont go to help the average Joe fighting the RIAA, it will go to whichever Ray thinks will hit the RIAA the hardest
And once Ray's hurt the RIAA enough, the average Joe won't have to worry about them anymore. I fail to see a down side.

Re:Ray Beckerman is the fund adviser (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414137)

Interesting to me that this post comes from a new member who has never commented before. Methinks I detect an RIAA troll. Any post that starts off "I hate the RIAA as much as the rest of you, but..." is usually highly suspect.

Hardly a nightmare... (2, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412921)

The problem is, by the standards of a civil suit (preponderence of the evidence), the RIAA is able to kick butt on the forensics.

Its sloppy, its crappy, but when you have "Identify user's ip, user name, and the same username used on a bunch of legitimate sites", it becomes hard to contest the evidence sufficiently to establish nonresponsibility.

Re:Hardly a nightmare... (2, Insightful)

kcornia (152859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412997)

You mean without equivalent experts on your side to appropriately and properly point out, to a non-technical jury, the giant holes in their evidence.

That's the way I interpret FSF's involvement. They're not arguing innocence or guilt, they're just making sure both sides have appropriate technical representation vs. the ridiculously one-sided "Grandma Jones and her AOL account vs. RIAA's team of electrical engineering PhDs".

Re:Hardly a nightmare... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413513)

You mean without equivalent experts on your side to appropriately and properly point out, to a non-technical jury, the giant holes in their evidence.

The problem is most of these people are guilty. And when they're put on the stand and asked, "did you download this music" they have two choices: tell the truth and admit liability, or lie and commit perjury.

Re:Hardly a nightmare... (1)

kcornia (152859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413673)

But this would be true whether the FSF were there or not. Like I said before, I don't think FSF is fighting for these people's innocence or guilt, I think they're fighting for fair representation on both sides with regard to technical issues. Letting the RIAA run rough shod over non-technical juries starts setting precedents that could seep out to other areas, namely open source programming vs. IP vultures.

Re:Hardly a nightmare... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413671)

Yes, but there was never really much doubt in anyones eyes whether -that- woman convicted in -that- case was guilty in my eyes at least. And I doubt the FSF thinks she should have gotten off. (The only real dispute there is how high her damages should be - and $220,000 is stupid/absurd/injust no matter how you look at it.)

But expert testimony at the right stage about the right point might force the rest of the evidence to become inadmissible, or create justification for a solid countersuit against the RIAA for how they obtained evidence. That sort of stuff might force them to settle for less, on terms more favorable to you, or even back off entirely.

It also might help in -other- cases, where the RIAA is arguing that your open FTP server is illegal distributing music. But the user was just using it to access his files from work and/or let his friends listen to his music as well under fair use, and the fact that other people could make copies for themselves with it, was simply not something you were concerned with, and you could have experts that would testify that an open ftp server is really no different than leaving your front door unlocked with your computer on. If someone walks in, tells your computer to send them copies of your files, and then leaves, who in their right mind would convict YOU for the 'crime'.

I don't have a problem with the RIAA shutting down people running ftp servers to distribute music, but they should have to prove more than "it exists". They should have to prove that you are posting the ip to blogs or usenet, and genuinely 'making it available' to the public, for example...

Experts could also help provide legitimate defense to people who host torrents, etc. After all, if I tell someone where a music file is, and they go and make a copy of it, why should I be found guilty of anything? If I had said there is a copy at the library would that also be illegal? Because they might go to the library and make a copy of it, and I told them where it was?! Experts can provide these sorts of explanations to help the jury understand the technology, and how it works, so they can make better decisions.

If the RIAA tells them the defendant was stealing the movie and broadcasting it all over the internets! The jury might side with a 'broadcasting and distributing without a license'... but if a defense expert says no, the defendant simply left a copy sitting on a computer, and people from around the world may have tresspassed onto his network, told his computer what to do without authorisation, and then helped themselves to a copy. (Oh and its hypothetical, the RIAA didn't actually even show that anybody actually even did this...)

The Jury might see things entirely differently.

The problem isn't so much copyright law (3, Insightful)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412935)

Yes, the RIAA is trying to modify copyright law a bit to squeeze more money out of music they "own" at the expense of the creator of the music, and while that is a problem, most of the time it is not the issue that comes to the front when individuals are confronted with copyright infringement lawsuits.

The big issue that has come into play is the RIAA's tactics in gathering evidence. Many times an IP address was proxied and the wrong person ends up on trial. The RIAA's biggest misstep comes into play when they search/seize without proof that the questionable internet activity came from the household they are searching.

There have been many trials which have gone very poorly for the individual even though the RIAA gathered evidence at an incorrect location and *happened* to stumble upon something questionable.

Don't get me wrong, it's still great that an individual has more resources when fighting an RIAA lawsuit, but many problems come up not because of the RIAA's loose definition of copyright, but because the individual defending them self doesn't know their rights.

Why? (3, Interesting)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21412945)

In all honesty, why? Admittedly, the FSF is more of a political organisation than a technical one, but why are they interested in defending file sharers? They should be promoting free software development with that money, not attempting to get people off (the admittedly ridiculous) fines imposed by the US courts the got because they were too lazy and / or tight to go down the record store and pay money for the (admittedly overpriced) music.

I quote "The Free Software Foundation (FSF), established in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs.". Thats computer programs, not MP3z. FFS, people donate money to the FSF for their work, if I had and found out they were spending it on this I'm be pretty miffed.

Right, tin hat on...

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413185)

I'm a card carrying FSF member, and I fully support this sort of behavior on their part. The issue of file sharing is already threatening software freedom - if they can help to make it clear that the RIAA are just jerks trying to abuse the legal system, the RIAA will have less power to try to outlaw software. That's what this is really about - whether software that allows people to share arbitrary data with each other should be considered to be evidence of criminal activity.

Re:Why? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414121)

I'm an FSF member too (although I don't want to scratch my mini-CD by carrying it around with me ;) ) I but I have to wonder if this sort of thing isn't more appropriate for the EFF instead (of which I'm also a member). Don't get me wrong: I'm glad this sort of thing is getting done. I'm just not sure if the division of labor is quite right.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413217)

Because the FSF is first and foremost about Freedom, and very much against any kind of DRM-like crap.

The RIAA, on the other hand, is one of the primary promoters of DRM.

Their lawsuit circus is mostly for show. One, they use it to create ammo for their lobbyists ("look how many evil people are out there, we're suing in the thousands but we simply can't get them all, we need new laws, give us new laws, btw. how's the wife? how about a nice holiday with her to fix things up again? or a nice willing young lady if it doesn't work?") and two they use it as intimidation towards Joe Public in order to stall the inevitable.

I think the FSF is pretty much in the right battle here, because if the RIAA gets their way, we won't end up with DRM'ed music, we will end up with DRM everywhere (if you really want to "protect" music from being copied, you need to have total control of every part of the soft- and hardware).

Re:Why? (1)

mungtor (306258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413907)

Because the FSF is first and foremost about Freedom, and very much against any kind of DRM-like crap.


While that's true, it's totally irrelevant to the central point. The RIAA has evidence of people engaged in an illegal activity. They are taking legal action against those people (or the people they identify). They are protecting their rights, whether you believe they should have those rights or not is not relevant. You can support independent music or buy things without DRM in an effort to drive the market, but all the posturing about freedom is just hand-waving by people who want to listen to music without paying the appropriate licensing fees (which we won't classify as stealing).



The FSF should stick to promoting open source software and explicitly avoid associating themselves with file sharing and the people who engage in it.


Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413249)

yes but the RIAA trials are creating interesting/dangerous precidents/opinions on IP law, which the FSF does rely upon, as copyright is nessesary to use copyleft. suitable changes/interpretations could render the creation of Free software extremely difficult, if not impossible.

it is very much in their interest to get involved with this before it starts to have direct effect on them, as by then it has gathered inertia and will be that much harder to reverse.

Re:Why? (1)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413507)

FFS, people donate money to the FSF for their work, if I had and found out they were spending it on this I'm be pretty miffed.

Well, it doesn't sound like you donate to the FSF, so you don't have any right to be miffed. We all benefit from their work. You wouldn't have any reason to be miffed anyway, this is a separate fund created by the FSF and you donate money to.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21413559)

"to defend against the RIAA's attempt to redefine copyright law."

FSF is involved not only in supplying software, but in licensing issues. Changes to copyright, can make them have to spend lots of time updating their licenses. GPL3 took years.

It might be that they don't really care about music-sharing, but have a problem with RIAA.

Also, although it tends to really be worse in the legislature than in the courts, laws like DMCA threaten just about anyone who touches a computer. Imagine if more stuff like that happens, unopposed. I don't know how expect witnesses in court make a difference on that, though.

Parent is trolling, but I'll answer anyway: (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413751)

Why, indeed?

Why convict defendants in your posts when they haven't even been through trial?

It ought to be clear from RTFA that the FSF may not have much of a free software culture left to serve if a whole body of cases with twisted re-interpretations of copyright law become established precedent. That impacts redistribution of software ever so much, so they are rightfully against letting the technical misrepresentations themselves to stand irregardless of whether the defendants are innocent or guilty.

Right, tin hat on...
How festive.

Good to see (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21412999)

While I'm sure the RIAA and friends will try to spin this as the FSF supporting piracy, that is just not the case. This is providing knowledge to the cases. This way someone with a hacked/cracked machine, wireless router or one of the other brazillion different ways that something can happen and gets unfairly brought up on charges can fight back.

Re:Good to see (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413313)

Well when the RIAA can spin it that sharing and downloading around 20 songs equals thousands of dollars to be given to them, they can spin anything. When the *IAA can mislead congress to passing the DMCA and similar acts they can spin it. What the FSF needs to do, is to have people running for congress, with some of the people who get elected they will probably have an easy time getting in and if they can stop the next DMCA from getting passed, its a win for freedom. Without some good senators and representatives in congress, we will be even more digitally shackled then we are now. When congress worries about US kids not getting high test scores and about importing things from foreign countries yet will pass laws allowing single mothers to be charged for thousands of dollars for 20 some songs. The *IAA is hurting innovation and if congress keeps on P2P networks will be illegal, no matter what you are using it for. So please FSF please send people to congress.

Donate (5, Informative)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413021)

Donate! [fsf.org]

20 years from now (5, Funny)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413039)

our children won't be watching cartoons like Captain Planet, which reflects the hippy nature of the 70's. Rather they'll be watching something subtly using themes of the goodness of sharing, and the evils of the RIAA. "Linus Torvalds with the power of Open Source!" *cut scene to Linus and a team of ninja penguins stopping a kid from cracking a program and giving him an open source alternative* "Mark Shuttleworth with the power of Benevolence!" *cut to Mark in a space shuttle signing a contract to pour money into a new open source development* "Bram Cohen with the power of File Sharing Protocols!" *Just show him solving one of his many rubiks cubes. It's awesome enough.* FSF with the power of Legal Aid! *Show a personified version of FSF smacking down a court order against an innocent mother* By their powers combined, they form internet's greatest hero! Captain 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0! Kickass.

Re:20 years from now (3, Funny)

5c11 (1009079) | more than 6 years ago | (#21414111)

Don't forget Negroponte - "with the power of Heart!"

Hay;.... RIAA.... (1)

jskline (301574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413515)

The jig is up. Better get your ducks in order now as your pyramid scheme is about to crumble.

Place your bets (3, Funny)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413657)

Which will happen first?

The end of digital restrictions or the dominance of GNU HURD?

The right answer - starve them (2, Insightful)

jays8088 (969633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21413953)

The right answer is to starve the beast. As much as I love music, I will not buy another CD as long as the music industry persists in these law suites. I will only buy music when I can buy it directly from the artist, without a music company in the middle and then only from artists that do not support suing their fans. Nor, will I go out and p2p music, I will simply go without. If artists with contracts with the record labels want to make money from me, they will have to do it the old fashion way. Come out and perform. I know it's a lot more work that spending time in a studio and expecting to royalty checks to roll it but I'll buy a ticket if your music is good. I will no longer purchase products from any record label that is a member of the RIAA until they change their ways. Let's stop complaining about the RIAA and do something by doing nothing. The loudest sound we can make is the sound of our wallets and pocket books snapping shut.
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